Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato

Three years ago, Captain Brogan Talvis' late wife abandoned their son, leaving no clue as to the boy's whereabouts. After searching relentlessly, Brogan discovers his son was adopted by a New England shipbuilder. And the man's daughter, Lorena Huntley, acts as loving guardian to the child.

Lorena, who hides a dark truth about her family and the child, finds herself falling for the handsome captain/ex-privateer who has come to secure ownership of one of her father's ships. She is still unaware of Brogan's own secret when another man's deceit has her sailing toward England against her will.

Haunted by thoughts of Lorena in peril, Brogan is forced to choose between the boy he longs for and the woman who has captured his heart.

Prize of My Heart by Lisa Norato was a sweet tale of love, forgiveness, and finding one's worth in God alone. The plot line of this novel was fairly straight forward, easy to follow, yet still interesting. There was a major twist in the plot at the end that I was not expecting, but it added greatly to the story. This twist allowed for some incredible wisdom from Lorena that is applicable to anyone's life.

The majority of the characters in this story were typical of a historical inspirational romance and did not experience much growth throughout the novel. However, Captain Brogan did experience some changes in his character and way of thinking that added greatly to his presence in the book. He was raised with completely untrue views of his own worth to God and the true character of God. I enjoyed seeing his growth and his increased understanding about self worth, strength in Christ, and true love.

The themes that Prize of My Heart emphasized were ones of living honestly instead of in deceit, understanding the real love of God, and surrendering one's life to God even when nothing makes sense. As Lorena told Brogan near the end of the book, "Surrender your plan, Brogan. Surrender your dreams to God, and let Him show you His plan for your life. ...God has had His hand on your life....God has seen the good treasure of your heart, even though you have made mistakes. He has taken what others meant for evil and turned it around to your advantage." pp 290-291. The final theme was forgiveness, even when great evil is committed against you.

Overall, I highly enjoyed the Prize of My Heart. I loved the major twist in the end, the growth Brogan experienced, and the truth of God that was spoken by the main characters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a simple yet truth filled novel for a quiet day of rest.

I received this novel for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate

Hope Springs is the epitome of small town life- a place filled with quiet streets where families have been friends for generations, a place where not a lot changes...until now.

Janelle Evans has not been back to Hope Springs since losing her husband. But when she arrives for Christmas and learns that her grandmother is gravely ill, she decides to extend the stay. It isn't long before she runs into her first love, and feelings that have been dormant for more than a decade are reawakened.

Becca Anderson is finally on the trajectory she has longed for. Having been in the ministry trenches for years, she has been recruited as the newest speaker of a large Christian women's conference. But her husband feels called to become the pastor of his late father's church in Hope Springs. Will small-town living affect her big ministry dreams?

Stephanie London is married to a doctor in St. Louis and living the ideal life. When her cousin Janelle volunteers to stay in Hope Springs and care for their grandmother, she feels compelled to do the same. It is a decisions that will forever change her.

As these women come together, they soon recognize that healing is needed in their hearts, their families, and their churches that have long been divided along racial lines. God's plan for them in Hope Springs - and for Hope Springs itself- is bigger than they ever imagined.

Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate was an excellently fashioned novel overflowing with truths about God, love, forgiveness, and Christian unity. The plot line was well developed and clearly showed the characters' struggles, weaknesses, and growth. There was only a little suspense in the plot, but the novel was well crafted and did not need suspense and mystery to keep me tied to the book.

The characters were very realistic, and it was easy to identify with their realizations, flaws, and struggles. I enjoyed seeing Stephanie's growth into a woman with a servant's heart, Becca's understanding that humility and love are more important than an impressive ministry career, Janelle's acceptance of God's plan for her and her family, and the countless other lesser characters who still experienced growth and change as they grew closer to God and family.

The themes of Hope Springs were phenomenal. The need for a community living in God's word was palpable, and the characters' realization that all Christians are united in Christ, no matter the color of their skin, was beautiful to behold. Other important themes included forgiveness, faithfulness in marriage and relationships even when your spouse is unfaithful to you, love, and acceptance.

Overall, I highly enjoyed Hope Springs by Kim Cash Tate, and I highly recommend any of her books to any woman looking for a novel that is full of truth and clearly reveals the godly relationships that can exist between women.

I received this novel for free from with Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Janus Affair by Pip Ballentine and Tee Morris

The LONG awaited sequel to the Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel!

Certainly no strangers to peculiar occurrences, ministry agents Wellington Books and Eliza Braun are nonetheless stunned to observe a fellow passenger aboard Britain's latest hypersteam train suddenly vanish in a bolt of lightning. They soon discover this is not the only such disappearance ....and each case is being ignored by a fellow agent and the Ministry.

The fate of England and the suffragist movement is again in the hands of the ingenious archivist and the beautiful, fearless lady of adventure. And though their foe may be fiendishly clever, so then is Mr. Books . . . and Miss Braun still has a number of useful and unusual devices hidden beneath her petticoats.

The Janus Affair by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris was an absolutely rollicking read, chock full of danger, disaster, and of course the devilish duo of Wellington Books and Eliza Braun. The mystery that these two agents are solving this time is, if possible, even more sinister and heart-troubling than the one found in the first Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novel. This mystery is personal, potentially leading to the harm of someone well loved by Eliza, someone that was mentioned in the first podcast of the Tales of the Archives, The Evil that Befell Sampson by Philippa Ballantine.
Link to the Tales of the Archives:

The plotline of the Janus Affair is excellent, clearly showing the perspectives of both agents, and simply brimming with unexpected twists, characters, and events. There are several humorous exchanges between the characters which are probably one of my favorite things about the novel. There are also sad moments, but they are necessary to add to the urgency of the mission.

The characters of the novel are also extremely well developed. I enjoyed learning more about Eliza and Wellington as they worked together on this case.....and.....the expected and much awaited building in chemistry between them. There is an old love of Eliza's in this story, and he adds to the tension between Eliza and Welly in the most fascinating of ways.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the Janus Affair, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a rambunctious tale of mystery, comedy, romance, and, of course, steampunk!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Song Of My Heart by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Sadie Wagner has always been devoted to her family. So when her stepfather is injured in a mining accident and is unable to work, she decides to leave home and accept a position as a clerk at a mercantile in Goldtree, Kansas. Goldtree also offers the opportunity for Sadie to use her God-given singing talent -though the promised opera house is far different from what she imagined. With her family needing every cent she can provide, Sadie will do anything to keep her job.

Thad McKane comes to Goldtree to investigate reports of an illegal bootlegging operation. Once he finds the culprits and earns enough money from his work as sheriff, he plans to use it to play for his training to become a minister so that he can clean up the reputation left by his alcoholic father.

Thad is immediately drawn to the lovely young singer who performs in Asa Baxter's unusual opera house. However, when he hears her practicing bawdy tunes, he begins to winder if she is far less innocent and godly than she seems. And when Sadie appears to be part of the very crimes that Thad has come to investigate, is there any hope for the Love blossoming between them?

 Song of My Heart was a well written and extremely interesting novel. The plot was well developed and progressed smoothly. It had many of the same characteristics as other Christian, historical romance novels, but it did have some unexpected twists. The characters were interesting and likable. Sadie's cousin, Sid, changes from a love besotted, brooding teenager to a responsible and smart man during the novel. Sadie and Thad also grow during the novel and understand more about grace, forgiveness, and trusting God as the book progresses and as they face trials they cannot master alone. Both characters, but especially Sadie, have to deal with significant flaws in their own characters and only come to a proper understanding of their failings when they come before God. The growth that these characters experience was my favorite portion of the book. I enjoyed seeing the characters' development, and many of the lessons that they learned can easily be applied to our everyday lives. Overall, the novel was well written, the characters were dynamic, and the themes were clear and applicable. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new novel to read.

I received this novel for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

Sam Hopkins is a pretty good kid. A preacher's kid, aka a PK. However, he has found himself mixed up with the wrong crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and delinquents, Sam knows it is only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.

But one day, Sam sees these thugs harassing a troubled schoolmate named Jennifer. Finding the courage to face the bullies down, Sam loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.

Jennifer is not just weird. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons, the devil, and death. And here's the Really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies -prophecies of something terrible that is going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.

With no one to believe him, with no one to help him other than one crazy girl, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan was an extremely quick yet enjoyable read. The book is clearly directed toward young teens, and it only took me a couple of hours to read. Despite that, I enjoyed the book a lot. The plot moved rather quickly, and I was actually surprised when I reached the end of the book. I felt like the book was weighted too heavily in background information and once it reached its climax it ended too quickly. Overall though the plot was interesting and kept me glued to the novel. The tone and language of the book were very well done and fit the age and character of the narrator, Sam Hopkins. The supposed supernatural element of the novel was fascinating and added to the spooky tone of some portions of the book. Even once the true cause came out, there were still frightening elements that were made even scarier by their validity.

The characters of this novel were well developed and had both their strengths and their quirks. The true enemy in this book turned out to be quite the shock and clearly shows how well some people can hide their true nature. I really liked both Sam and Jennifer, and I enjoyed their interactions, as weird as they turned out to be.

Overall, the plot was pretty good, the characters were well developed, and the tone and language were well written. Crazy Dangerous is certainly a novel directed to teenagers, and I would not recommend it for really young children because of the violence. However, despite the age group that this novel was directed towards, I still enjoyed it as a quick and distracting read.

I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers through in exchange for an honest review.